Oh, bother. We can’t say we’re terribly surprised about this, and we know that even when nail polish is free of toluene, DBP and formaldehyde, it’s still usually as far as you can get from natural, but yup:
A new report from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control found levels of these harmful chemicals in 10 of the 12 “nontoxic” nail polishes it tested.
From the Washington Post:
Investigators found that 10 of 12 products that claimed to be free of toluene actually contained it, with four of the products having dangerously high levels.
The report also found that five of seven products that claimed to be “free of the toxic three” actually included one or more of the agents in significant levels.
As I type this, gazing at my chipped coral manicure (OPI, don’t hate—it was for an important occasion), I’m sort of faced with that “I knew it but I didn’t want to know it” feeling. It’s similar to how we felt when we were writing the book and had to part with some of our favorite products. Like my “all-natural” defrizzer that was aloe-based, but also contained no fewer than three parabens—as well as fragrance.
But back to polish. Among those tested and mislabeled were: Sation 99 basecoat, Sation 53 red-pink nail color, Dare to Wear nail lacquer, Chelsea 650 Baby’s Breath Nail Lacquer, New York Summer Nail Color, Paris Spicy 298 nail lacquer, Sunshine nail lacquer, Cacie Light Free Gel Basecoat, Cacie Sun Protection Topcoat, Golden Girl Topcoat, Nail Art Top-N-Seal and High Gloss Topcoat.
Glad that none of the brands I use are on the list, but there’s little comfort in that, obviously, since the Tox department only tested a random sample.
Show’s to go ya you never can be too sure you’re getting what you’re buying, no matter how careful you are. That’s why we try to only shop from brands we know very well, whose transparency and authenticity we trust. But blah all the same. Are you going to stop getting your nails done?
It’s proseco-for-breakfast time!
Let’s all celebrate this big change: Eastman Chemical has announced that it will stop producing two phthalates—diethyl phthalate and dibutyl phthalate—both of which we have been whining about for some time. We were alerted to the great news by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Green Beauty Team. Of course, it’s not the same as a ban, and it doesn’t mean our work here is done, but it’s nice to see business responding to consumer and public health concerns about ingredients. (Though you must wonder what they’ll be replaced with in formulations.)
But for now: Clink! Clink!
Hilarious weird picture via
Here’s a conundrum:
We want cosmetics companies to stop using ingredients that have been shown to be unsafe or about which we know so little that it makes it impossible for us to know if they are safe or not.
In order for them to prove that things are safe, they need to test (or, as is more often the case, retest) ingredients.
In order to do test them, they often use rats and mice. Lots of them.
Europe was getting ready to pass a law that would ban sales of any cosmetic that has been tested on animals anywhere in the world. But now, the Guardian reports, “The final phase of [the] law … is set to be delayed for as long as four years because it is thought that alternative ways of testing the safety of ingredients’ will not be ready in time.” A U.K. member of parliament is accusing the cosmetics industry of deliberately delaying the process of developing other ways of testing chemicals for safety.
Wouldn’t surprise us. But there’s a catch. Without getting overly bogged down in details, here’s a complicated EU directive, called REACH, that requires the retesting of tons of chemicals used in cosmetics and household products. In order to provide this safety data, the industry could use up to 54 million animals in its tests.
The problem with numbers that big is that it’s impossible to actually imagine what it looks like in real life. Well, here’s what ten million pennies look like next to a person:
So five and a half of those, remembering of course that pennies are a lot smaller than animals. Also, they don’t have feelings.
While industry reps told The Guardian that REACH won’t affect animal testing bans, a U.S. mining company that produces sodium borate—an ingredient used in cosmetics—confirmed it had recently subjected the chemical to animal tests in compliance with REACH.
Rio Tinto [the mining company] said: “We avoid animal testing whenever possible. But when we’re required by regulation to do animal testing, we do it to ensure human and environmental safety.”
Mark Constantine, managing director of Lush, said: “The confirmation that … sodium borate has been tested on animals by the borate SIEF [the Substance Information Exchange Forum, which collates data for registration of chemicals from European suppliers] confirms our worst fears about Reach. We’re investigating the situation, and have removed it from one product and are working on the others.”
Oof. I am curious to see to what extent industry will use the two pieces of legislation—safety compliance and an animal testing ban—as a way to comply with neither. Stay tuned.
It’s been a bad week for water. First it was reported that a probable carcinogen called hexavalent chromium (a.k.a. chromium-6, the one made famous by Erin Brockovich) was found in the tap water of 25 cities of the 35 that were tested. And now there is a whole other concern in California around possible water contamination from all the rain we’ve been getting in the sunshine state. Ugh.
Thanks to Brockovich, California actually set a 0.06 parts per billion (ppb) limit for chromium-6 in drinking water, but the study has shown that some cities contain far higher levels than that.
The Los Angeles Times gives a good breakdown here of what we know about chromium-6. Basically, it’s a likely “occupational carcinogen” when inhaled, increasing the risk of lung and other cancers. We know less about what happens when we drink it, though in rodent studies it caused intestinal tumors.
A senior scientist from the EWG is saying in this CNN post that your best bet is a filter, and that there are currently no guarantees that it’s not in bottled water too. But is a Brita sufficient?
Here is a breakdown by NSF, an independent nonprofit, of what filtration methods are proven to work in ridding hexvalent from our water: Reverse osmosis works, of course, but it’s expensive; filtration can work, but not all countertop filters are created equal. The one cited here, by ZeroWater, is certified by NSF. Bonus: This is the one Siobhan owns and uses.
What are you doing about it?
Fantastic news coming out of Denmark. The country’s environment ministry announced today that it was banning two parabens in products for kids under 3, making it the first in Europe to ban those pesky hormone disruptors. Hey, it only applies to kids’ products, but it’s a HUGE start. I’m curious to see what will happen. Will companies start reformulating for Denmark only? Will they just replace parabens with another cheap synthetic preservative like phenoxyethanol, which is also on our black list in the book? Will the EU follow suit? Will the United States? (That last one was a joke. Kind of.)
You can read all about it in Danish or stay tuned for more news from us. And if you speak Danish, would you be a doll and email us at nomoredirtylooks at gmail dot com? Grazie!